The financial services industry is both dynamic and multifaceted, making it optimal for career advancement.
If you’re a student or recent graduate looking to hatch your career, it is incredibly important you are able to relay to your next potential employer why your previous work and leadership experience enhance your ability to contribute as an entry-level financial services professional – and more importantly, why you’re head and shoulders above the competition.
Unsure how your work and leadership experience position you as a top candidate? Read on!
Central to the work of any financial service professional are the abilities to communicate efficiently and effectively, build relationships, work both collaboratively and independently, and pay meticulous attention to detail.
While these are lifelong skills, you don’t need years of related experience to demonstrate that you have value to offer – you just need to showcase them effectively. To do so, clearly summarize your work experience with reference to a specific skill that was developed, and how this skill produced or contributed to a tangible result.
Previously worked in retail or fast food? Spent a summer doing door-to-door sales or painting?
Tell your employer about why that matters!
Here are some examples:
- Fulfilled customers’ retail needs, enhanced overall team morale, and contributed to a sales team that exceeded monthly sales targets by 12 per cent
- Conducted door-to-door sales connecting with potential clientele and reaching nearly 1000 households over a 4-month period
Be specific and if you can, quantify! Quantifiable results are generally well-received and will certainly set you apart from the competition.
You may be inclined to believe that your volunteer experience does very little for your resume when applying to an entry-level finance position – this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your volunteer experience can speak volumes, and if written correctly, can become a great avenue for you to demonstrate continued development, emotional intelligence, commitment to community, the ability to network, and strong organization and time-management skills.
Did fundraising for a charity? Supervised children? Helped around with some clerical tasks? With some thoughtful consideration, these are all volunteer experiences that can translate well into entry-level finance positions.
Here are some examples:
- Fundraised as a team volunteer for [charity or organization here], contributing to several events, reaching multiple fundraising targets, and personally raising X dollars over a three year period
- Assumed leadership over a group of [x number] of children aged 6-8 according to a carefully designed two-week schedule
As a recent graduate, it is likely that in addition to your work and educational background, you bring a wealth of experience as a member of a student government, cultural association, interest-based group or varsity team!
Focusing on your supplemental extracurricular activity can certainly be profitable if done carefully and strategically.
Any career in finance requires the ability to multitask, familiarity with a diverse set of work environments, as well as a willingness to collaborate or work independently with limited supervision.
What better way than to highlight those areas that demonstrate your ability to balance and co-ordinate a healthy work schedule with considerable ease and satisfaction?
Highlighting extracurriculars offers ample space to demonstrate to your employer that your career goals align with your passions and interests.
Here are some examples:
- Represented the [sports team] in [sport], following a rigorous training regimen, and secured 4th place nationally
- Served as Vice President of [student government], representing [x number] of university students, managing a $2M annual budget
- Awarded a [$x] cash prize for finishing 2nd in the [name] business competition, competing against hundreds of like-minded university students across Canada
The bottom line
Above all, your work, volunteer, and extracurricular experience should make meaningful and relevant connections that showcase the development of the innumerable skills for a successful career in finance.
While sounds technical skills are a must for financial professionals, businesses are increasingly looking for greater evidence of soft skills from their employees.
Communication, emotional intelligence are all important facets that build the relationships that are necessary to drive business. More importantly, not only are these skills important for recent graduates, but also increasingly important for finance professionals who hope to climb the corporate ladder into leaderships positions.